Unless you’re in a studio environment where you can control the lighting you’re always somewhat at the mercy of environmental conditions when taking photographs. Even if a photo is good, it might still be the case that it can be improved by altering the direction of the light or changing the way the subject is affected by light. In this unedited picture we have some daylight coming in and also some shadows. Hit the Develop button to enter Develop mode.
There are two filter types available from the toolbar at the top right corner of the Develop section. The circular one is a Radial filter, so select this to begin with. Drag with the mouse to draw a circle or oval shape to focus in on the subject: the filter shape can be altered by dragging its centre or four edge points. Expand the slider controls for the filter and make adjustments. In this example we have dialled down the temperature and exposure for the areas outside the filter zone. You can move the zone around freely, and Lightroom will adjust its focus accordingly.
In this example the shape and focus of the filter zone has been moved and expanded, and the filter settings changed to cool down the colours outside of the zone. The effects are subtle but effective, changing the way the viewer’s eye is guided. Every picture will have a different requirement, but it can be quick and easy to shift attention around an image using filtering in this way.
The other type of filter, denoted by a hollow rectangle, is a Graduated filter. If you click and drag to insert one of these into the image, it can be expanded or contracted a bit like an accordion. At one end the effects of the filter will be greater and at the other, less. In this example we have dragged a filter in from left to right and then changed its settings so that the area on the left is darker and less saturated. The effect gradually changes as the filter extends to the right. Again you can pick this filter up at any point, change its shape or delete it my selecting it and hitting backspace.
Now we have drawn in a second Graduated filter, this time starting from the right and running towards the centre of the image. We have spaced out its boundaries to make the effect extend over a greater proportion of the image. Again the settings have been made to darken and desaturate, giving a much more moody feel compared to the original photo. Of course you can do the opposite, lightening and brightening areas to make them stand out more. It really depends on the photo in question, but filters are an excellent way to deal with light and colour in post production.